Friday, March 16, 2007

Is the Public this Easily Swayed?

I saw at Pajamas Media that Michael Crichton won a recent debate against global warming advocates:

The Global Warming skeptics team led by Michael Crichton defeated the Global Warming advocates led by Brenda Ekwurzel in a debate moderated by Brian Lehrer before a live audience in New York City. Before the debate the organizers polled 57.32% to 29.88% in favor of Global Warming, but after the debate the numbers flipped to 46.22% to 42.22% in favor of the skeptics.

I am certainly glad that Crichton and his colleagues changed some minds at the debate but it makes me wonder, "Isn't it kind of astounding that such a high percentage of people changed their minds about global warming over one debate?" It makes me wonder what happens when An Inconvenient Truth is shown in schools without any scientists or experts on the other side to balance out the views of global warming advocates. If adults can change their mind this quickly when given another view of global warming or perhaps any political message for that matter, then what does it do to kids to give them one side of an issue without equally presenting the other side?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly I'm not surprised. People often feel that they are required to have a definite opinion on controversial topics. It's actually heartening to see that they can still be swayed by a reasoned debate.

It would be interesting to see whether these opinions persisted over several months.

11:30 AM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless you teach your children to have critical judgement (this means that they always ask 'are you sure' and 'how do you know') they will be swayed, usually by 'experts'.

This does not mean they will get it right, but at least they will always double check.

11:37 AM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not surprised, and am in fact heartened by this story.

For many years, on many issues, the MSM presented just one side to the public.

11:46 AM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

Chrichton's book, "State of Fear" addresses this issue. Ever since reading it, I have been disgusted by the chicken-littling of Al Gore. His followers' blind faith and eagerness to condemn those who actually want to look at the issue critically is truly frightening. It's like a cult at this point.

12:07 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Creationists often win debates against evolutionists. What are we to conclude from that?

12:22 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, this is why we need to balance every 1/2 hour in a psychology class with a 1/2 hour taught by Scientologists.

12:30 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me read the transcript first. Then I can decide if the audience was fickle.

Truth is, many folks have opinions on lots of things based on common misconceptions. If the debaters sufficiently debunked these, I'd not be surprised at changed minds.

For instance, I can talk to a coworker who initially supports "tougher gun control." I can then spend 5 minutes discussing (politely) what existing gun control there is in our jurisdiction. When I'm done, they realize how little they actually knew to begin with, and are left much more skeptical of gun control then they were.

Notice I wrote "skeptical." I did not imply they were immediately opposed to more gun control, only that their sanguine acceptance had evaporated.

I suspect this is what Crichton & Co. did as well. I'll have to read it to be more confident.

12:35 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who woulda thunk that a popular media figure, an author, screenwriter, and guest on television would have been able to out communicate a scientist?

I mean, eazy to unnerstand communications, that's wut scientists are known fer!

12:35 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 6th grade son recently saw Gore's "An Inconvient LIE" recently in school. He said Gore was SO boring, Gore went on and on. My son said he almost fell asleep during the film, many kids did fall asleep.

I second what Dan in MD said abouting teaching your kids critical thinking. Whenever my son gives me an opinon, I always ask him why he thinks that way. I have in the past year or so noticed a big improvement in his reasoning.

12:40 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My real question is: If Global Warminig is real, what the hell am I supposed to do about it? OK, I can stop driving as much and don't use aerosol cans and write a letter to my Congressman. After that, I'll just have to do what non-decision-making average guys have always done: roll with the changes. If it gets hot, I'll wear less clothing. If sea-levels rise, I'll buy a boat. If there's mass starvation and disease, I'll...try to survive as people have always tried to survive. I don't have all the answers, I don't need to have all the answers, all I need to do is keep going until I can't go anymore. Changing my opinion about Global Warming, one way or the other, won't change reality.

I don't mind scientists speculating about the weather. As for Al Gore and his panic-mongering ilk, I think Donovan said it best: "Everybody's hustlin' just to have a little scene..."

12:42 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Tom Hilton said...

Chrichton's book, "State of Fear" addresses this issue.

Um, Knoxwhirled? You are aware that it's fiction, right?

1:03 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger JohnAnnArbor said...

don't use aerosol cans

1. That was for the ozone layer, not global warming.
2. Present aerosol cans don't have the "ozone-depleting" propellant any more.

1:54 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

My real question is: If Global Warminig is real, what the hell am I supposed to do about it?

I think that your civic duty is to ride your bicycle everywhere to offset the CO2 usage by Al Gore as he jets around the world in a private jet, travels in limos, and entertains in his mansion, so that he can increase our awareness of this critical problem that he discovered.

2:01 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:01 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Reality checkout:

Is Gore the Scientologist in your little example?

2:02 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:02 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe another way of saying what I just did, is that I will start considering believing in Global Warming when its high profile supporters start acting like it is a serious problem. But as long as they are some of the biggest offenders on a per capita basis about CO2 emissions, energy usage, etc., I have to believe that it is a non problem.

Otherwise, Al Gore would downsize to a normal sized house (and sell of his other two houses), and do all his work over the Internet (which he apparently invented too), instead of jetting around in private jets, riding in limos, and using 20X the national average of power in just one of his three houses.

But right now, since the problem isn't obviously imminent enough that Gore and his high profile supporters think that they need to downsize their lifestyles to that of the rest of us, I will remain sceptical.

2:10 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Um, Knoxwhirled? You are aware that it's fiction, right?"

You mean "An inconvenient truth" isn't fiction?

2:17 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger davenoon said...

You know, a lot of people are persuaded by fiction when presented in a compelling fashion by someone who sounds as if s/he knows what s/he's talking about. We all remember Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations, for instance.

2:36 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

From anon. 2:01's link:

an important counter-balance to warming — sunlight blocked by volcanic gases, dust, pollution and other aerosol particles — appears to have weakened.

Time to burn more bituminous coal.

The article says, globally, February was the warmest ever. It sure wasn't in Cincinnati. Average temperatures were more than 11 degrees F. below normal. It makes me wonder, at least a little bit, how they come up with these "global" temperatures.

Tom H. - Michael Crichton researches his books quite well. "Rising Sun" has a healthy bibliography to support the claims in the book. The story may be fiction but he usually gets the facts correct.

2:37 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

"Um" Tom:

Yes, it's fiction, but the scientific data in it is carefully cited and documented at the end of the book. Is it possible that this data is biased and carefully edited like Gore's? Certainly...

But Crichton--and others I've read about who question Gore's nightmare scenario--aren't even saying that global warming isn't occuring, they are simply skeptical of the doomsday predictions. They seek only to inform people that there are many, many factors that either aren't being considered, or are being ignored.

For example: scientists cannot even accurately tell if a warming trend is the direct result of an increase from CO2, or of, say, warming of the sun, (or a dozen other mitigating factors); the current computer models, from which Gore's conclusions are drawn, are not yet sophisticated enough to address cloud formation and predict its effect on the climate. Clouds apparently have an enormous effect on climate and simply cannot be ignored or discounted. Furthermore, these models, and the scientists who created them, don't even agree with each other.

Anyway, a great place to read about it is in Frontline's (hardly a right-wing show) interview with a global warming skeptic here:


I am just old enough to remember being told as a child that Acid Rain was going to destroy the planet. It was basically too late to save Canada's lakes and forests, and the U.S. was next. Anyone else remember the "Daddy, what were forests like?" bumper stickers?

An earlier commenter made a reference to creationism vs evolution. I am not a religious person, agnostic at best. But nor do I swallow anything I hear, even if I'm told it's science, and expecially when it's been fed to me by a politician. I will always, always, want to know more. And after we were told that Global Cooling and Acid Rain were the instruments of impending doom, it astounds me that so many now unquestioningly swallow the Global Warming Armageddon.

The skeptics aren't the one taking up their case with religious zeal--it's the believers who increasingly want to shout anyone down who merely questions.

3:05 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so unfair. Not only does that bozo's existence forever deny me the simple pleasure of "vanity-googling", now everyone that sees my name will associate it with this sort of stupidity. :-P

3:05 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the supporters of an ideology start sending death threats to those that disagree with their ideology, the ideology is proven to be false.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody involved in any branch of evolution study has ever demanded that a creationist be silenced, stripped of professional credentials, or killed. All of these things have happened in the past 6 months to people who do not believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Evolution is valid science. AGW is religion.

3:17 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...

I think uninformed people are easily swayed by facts.

3:37 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger George M. Spencer said...

Whether Crichton is right or wrong about global warming, consider what he did to this New Republic writer who dared to criticize him....

3:52 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

but is the bicycle really that green, or CO2 compliant.

you bought the bike, how did you travel there, by car?, how did they make the bike, smelted metals, what with, how did they get the raw materials to the smelter.

so unless you do a complete diagnosis of where the item came from, what energy it used, combined with the lifespan on the bike, and its related parts..

and anyway, siberia is too cold to grow much food at the moment, in global warming (if it exists), you will open up millions of acres of land, for food growing.

(btw did you know mars has gotten warmer, must be global warming, must be little aliens producing co2.)

In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.

Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.

"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.


so how would the scientists explain that, little green men, or humans, or .. some other factor

then you get scientists, with death threats for stating that global warming may not be a human cause..

4:14 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the best of my knowledge, nobody involved in any branch of evolution study has ever demanded that a creationist be silenced, stripped of professional credentials

Actually, it's been known to happen. There was quite a brouhaha over a Smithsonian scientist who allowed an intelligent design paper to be published in the magazine. He was an evolutionist but they tried to get him fired just for allowing an ID viewpoint to be heard.

Amy K.

Amy K.

4:32 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Jeff Fecke said...

Tom H. - Michael Crichton researches his books quite well. "Rising Sun" has a healthy bibliography to support the claims in the book. The story may be fiction but he usually gets the facts correct.

Yes, and Crichton's always accurate, which is why the Japanese own everything west of the Mississippi today. Except, you know, not.

5:41 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Tom Hilton said...

Tom H. - Michael Crichton researches his books quite well....The story may be fiction but he usually gets the facts correct.


Yes, it's fiction, but the scientific data in it is carefully cited and documented at the end of the book.

You would be hard-pressed to find any climatologists (or, for that matter, experts in any area about which Crichton has written)--excluding those employed (directly or indirectly) by the fossil-fuel industries--who would agree with that assessment. Crichton has a knack for making it seem (to the layperson) that he has done his research...which is why people like you think he has.

6:45 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Are there "any scientists or experts on the other side"? I have been trying to find some and can't.

7:12 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Bill Dalasio said...

Mr. Hilton,

You present an interesting argument. Not necessarily a factual one, but an interesting one nonetheless. So, lets dig a little deeper into the standard you're using to discredit scientists skeptical of global warming. In pointing out the employment "(directly or indirectly) by the fossil-fuel industries", I' assuming that you indicate they are responding to monetary incentive rather then scientific integrity. So, perhaps the standard should be we should completely discount the views of any scientist whose economic incentives correspond to his views on the matter. Fair enough. But, let's consider the views of the global warming faithful. How do they get funded? Prsumably through research grants. But, people don't receive research grants to study non-existent phenomena. Therefore, the incentives of global warming adherents must also be discounted. As only through legitimizing the claim can they count on continued funding.

7:51 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt wrote: "Are there "any scientists or experts on the other side"? I have been trying to find some and can't."

When you fall Matt, do you find the ground?

Less than a minute on Google I found : - it has cartoons, might start there.

or this one: - some sorry rag called Scientific American. is a link to a climatologist who publishes in Science and more topic oriented journals.

If you are interested in the work of particular people Google Patrick Michaels from the University of Virginia and meteorologist Richard Lindzen from MIT.

Now I am not sure that who is right in the debate, but I am sure that anyone who wants to can find the other side of the issue. I assume that you are capable as well, so maybe you are not trying as hard as you would have us believe.


7:59 PM, March 16, 2007  
Blogger Tom Hilton said...

Nice bit of cut-rate casuistry there...but sorry, no sale.

Thing One: the fossil-fuel industries have set up think tanks with the explicit purpose of 'debunking' anthropogenic global warming. You work for them, and you know exactly what you're getting paid for. Other institutions that employ climatologists--NOAA, say, or major universities--were not set up for the purpose of advancing a particular theory. The two are not comparable.

Thing two: say, for the sake of argument, that a given climatologist has a strong incentive to show support for anthropogenic global warming. His work is reviewed, evaluated, and commented on--and published or not published based on the review by--other climatologists whose employment is not dependent on the same incentives.

Thing three: you quibbled with a minor qualification in my post. Fine; if you want to include the very few climatologists who do get their paychecks from the fossil-fuel industry, let's include them, and I'll amend my post to say the overwhelming majority of climatologists (and scientists in any area about which Crichton has written) have no respect whatsoever for Crichton's research or his grasp of scientific concepts.

8:12 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, Tom, you're generating enough heat right there under your collar to contribute to global warming.

8:22 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which think tanks have these scientists on salary, and what are the scientists names? The links that I've read of tend to be in the form of honorariums, or speaking engagements devoted to prior publications - not original commissioned research.

Tom are claiming that these scientists are falsifying the results that they are obtaining from public datasets?

9:45 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Citation for Brian.

Amy K.

11:36 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oligonicella, comparing ID scientists with flat earthers says more about you than them. And actually some ID scientists believe in evolution, just not Darwinian evolution.

Amy K.

11:40 PM, March 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amy -

"The magazine of Life Sciences" -- This by you is science? The magazine in question was a peer-reviewed journal. This ID article didn't make it past peer review. "Information Theory" must be a new science, I've never even heard of it. Sure it isn't pseudo-science? I'm not doubting that there's anti-Christian discrimination in the science trade rag biz, but all this guy did was prove them right by pushing an article based on pseudo-science and babble.

Like it or not, ID remains an article of faith, moreso than any branch of evolution. Certainly, evolution does not answer the questions of abiogenesis or trans-speciation. But ID simply says "when one looks at a complex organism, one sees evidence of intelligent design".

That which requires faith is not science. Therefore ID, AGW, and String Theory are all faith until proven otherwise.

8:48 AM, March 17, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Here's a link to 17,000 scientists, headed by a Past President of the National Academy of Sciences, who say global warming claims have no scientific basis. The fossil fuel industry sure is buying off a lot of scientists.

Other institutions that employ climatologists--NOAA, say, or major universities--were not set up for the purpose of advancing a particular theory.

Maybe so, but when I worked in corrections and mental health, if you didn't toe the line with the prevailing theories and climate, your career went no where. (Pun intended.) As my father was a college professor and my sister is now, I've seen this to be quite true in many academic environments, also.

A good example of the strenght of bias and closed mindedness in academia is John Lykoudis, who discovered treating stomach ulcers with anti-biotics. He was legally fined for his work and shunned by the medical establishment. However, in 2005, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize in medicine for proving Lykoudis' theories true and identifying the actual bacteria.

Just because a scientist does not work for the fossil fuel doesn't mean he/she is necessarily any less bias.

9:18 AM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point Dadvocate!

And I do not know if Jack and Tom's posts were directed toward mine. But if they were, I strictly avoided any think tank citations, the citations I gave were from peer reviewed journals. Respectable ones at that. Worth a read if you are interested in a discussion.

Not worth looking at if you are just seeking to make an unchallenged assertion. You decide!


9:44 AM, March 17, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

"Who woulda thunk that a popular media figure, an author, screenwriter, and guest on television would have been able to out communicate a scientist?"

Maybe it's because Criton IS a scientist?

Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching public policy with Jacob Bronowski. He has taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT.

At least he is more of a scientist than you or Al Gore. But that doesn't matter to the True Beleiver. He must be trashed because he is apostate and has committed the mindcrime of disagreeeing with His Holiness, Saint Al.

11:02 AM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious, what is the ideal temperature for the earth? How do you determine that?


12:40 PM, March 17, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

people like you

Perfect example of the arrogant attempt to marginalize/demonize people who merely *question* that the world is ending, and that we need to pay Carbon Offsets to Al Gore's own investment firm, thereby padding his wallet nicely for more private jets.
Link from the Tennessean:

Also, to those who discount the work of scientists who are skeptical of global warming, here is a quote (from the same Frontline interview cited in my earlier comment.) There is good reason to question the objectivity of the pro-armageddon science as well:

the people who take the money and do research, by and large, are doing very competent research. [But] you'll find them very careful not to speak out against the global warming "threat"'ll find also that when they do speak out, as many of them do, they suffer consequences. They lose support. ... if you're a young professor at a university and want to get tenure, or if you want to get a permanent academic position, you must do published research. And to do published research, you must write proposals to get money to do the research. So you're locked into a vicious spiral here. You have to go along with the current wisdom that global warming is a threat. Otherwise, you're not going to get the job that you want.

So it would seem that there are career concerns on both sides that might shade what scientists are willing to say about the "threat."

3:23 PM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The public generally does not understand how research monies are allocated. People often seem to have the misconception that individual researchers are financed to pursue their work independently of a specific objective. I think that this is why arguments against commercially sponsored research seem valid to many people. They don't realize that researchers participating in non-commercial research experience many of the same constraints and incentives.

4:12 PM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew people were this easily swayed since about 6th grade. At least 90% of all people don't think. Period.

The only time the masses won't so easily change their mind is when the view they are tempted to embrace involves social stigma. (obviously not so much the case with global warming...)

The majority of people should be discouraged from voting by all means possible. Yet just the opposite happens.

Hmmmm... I wonder why?

4:53 PM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of thinking, again I ask, what's the best temperature for the earth? That's a fairly important point, and not one I've ever seen discussed. It seems unlikely that we're somehow at the perfect point right now just when the topic of global warming has come up. So what's "best"? Since everyones all wacked out over a couple of degrees warmer I would presume they want it to be cooler? Or are they just talking out of their ,,, er, hats?

5:47 PM, March 17, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

Maybe he just showed CO2 and temp curves superimposed and pointed out that CO2 lagged temp increases, not the other way around?

5:55 PM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Identify the designer. If you can't, it's fantasy. Too bad.

I don't feel like defending ID, because I don't really care...

But what if tomorrow, a huge relic of some sort came crashing to earth from space. (as one of our space probes might crash on mars, for example) As far as anyone is concerned, it's obviously designed.

The designer clearly cannot, and may never be, identified. By your logic it must be relegated to fantasy.

Not a very robust method, I must say.

9:45 PM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oliginocella, I find ID to be fascinating study, but I'm not invested in it. I'm therefore not inclined to argue with you about it

However, it is clear from your comments that you do not understand ID. Your definition of evolution is accurate, but that is not Darwinian evolution. If it were, there would be no debate as everyone agrees with that definition.

I read about it only as an interesting personal study, not to convince anyone. But I will say that I find global warming to be the Darwinian theory of evolution of our day.

Amy K.

11:17 PM, March 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amy - it's obvious you know nothing of Darwin's writings.

Please stop embarrassing yourself.

Darwin - in a nutshell - said that organisms are constantly mutating, and that those mutations that tend to enhance survival are passed on to future generations.

Of that there can be no argument.

Darwin never made any claims about the origin of life, which is precisely what ID concerns itself with.

Anyone who tells you that they know the origin of life is trying to sell you something.

9:13 AM, March 18, 2007  
Blogger Ronnie Schreiber said...

but is the bicycle really that green, or CO2 compliant

It's not just the environmental impact of mining the titanium/aluminum/steel or formulating the polymers used in carbon fiber composites.

I'm not sure if it counts as credentials, but for six years I managed the waste streams from a large DuPont r&d lab, including haz waste. I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to get some professional training so I enrolled in graduate engineering program in Haz Waste Mgmt. I also commuted to work by bicycle (~18 miles round trip) about 7 months out of the year (and still ride at least 2000 miles a year). While writing a paper for a public policy course I decided to calculate how much CO2 I generated on the bicycle.

You put out significantly more CO2 at cardiac exercise levels (>120bpm) than you do at rest. I don't have the figures at hand (on a long gone 1st generation Mac) but my increased output of CO2 due to my bike commute was on the same order of magnitude as the CO2 output of a typical car driving the same distance. The car emissions were higher, to be sure, but surprisingly not by much.

Also, regarding conflicts of interest, when a guest speaker in that course who represented the Sierra Club started waving a sheaf of "studies" in support of banning the industrial use of chlorine (because the halogens are reactive, about 60% of the chemical industry is dependent on chlorine in their processes - the goal of the proposed ban is to shut down the chemical industry), I pointed out that I was sure that my employer could generate an equal number of studies on the other side of the issue. It just so happened that day that I was in a hurry and didn't change out of my flame proof Nomex uniform with a pretty obvious DuPont logo on my left breast. The lecturer said with a sneer, "So you work for the chemical industry?"

I then asked if he was challenging my integrity and he replied, "Well, they pay you." I answered him, "And every single one of the scientists in your 'studies' was paid by Greenpeace." The lecture hall, filled mostly with people who worked for a living as opposed to traditional students, exploded with applause.

2:33 PM, March 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>Brian said:
Darwin never made any claims about the origin of life, which is precisely what ID concerns itself with.

>>Darwin said:

"It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, &c., present, that a proteine compound was chemically formed ready to undergo stillmore complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed."

It's true that Darwin did not write much about ultimate origins, but he obviously had a conjecture for first biological causes.

Brian, Please stop embarrassing yourself.

5:00 PM, March 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Brian, ID makes absolutely NO claims about origin of life. Perhaps it's you who should do some research.

Amy K.

9:02 PM, March 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soylent Green is people!

9:38 PM, March 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something to consider regarding the motives of environmental activists, pertaining to their promotion of Anthropogenic Global Warming, is that these parties will benefit by either the proof or refutation of the hypothesis.

If some version of AGW is true, environmentalists can claim credit for bringing the issue to public attention and promoting solutions.

If AGW is eventually dismissed, environmental activists can leverage what will likely be a significant erosion of public trust in science to promote a precautionary stance towards current and future technologies. This change is public perception will also make it easier for environmentalists to introduce unempirical 'theories' and mystical beliefs.

So AGW can be thought of as a scorched earth strategy. It can cripple industry, debase the scientific foundations of modern industry, and undermine faith in empiricism by association.

10:28 PM, March 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your accusations of bias against groups like Greenpeace are pretty bogus. Any motivations you might ascribe to them are pretty silly and tame compared to the obvious motivations of groups like DuPont.

8:10 AM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

I'm not surprised to see a big shift on a topic like this.

My take on it is that the general public defaults to whatever the "background hum" is on a given topic, until presented with reasonable evidence to the contrary.

Note that the media has a huge role in setting the agenda, in that they guide the attention of the public, and establishes the content of the "background hum", usually via "lies of omission".

10:47 AM, March 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are certainly free to believe ID scientists are using ID to inject religion into the debate. For all I know, you could be correct. However, ID itself doesn't have anything to do with religion. In fact, there are a number of atheist and agnostic scientists who subscribe to the idea.

And Behe is a Catholic who was perfectly religiously satisfied to believe in evolution. He only questioned it when he was exposed to scientific arguments against it.

But this is why I don't generally get into discussions about it on the internet. People tend to have very strong feelings pro and con. We're just going to have to agree to disagree.

Amy K.

11:02 AM, March 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found a description of the paper you referenced. It's not talking about origin of life. He explains why he believes molecular machines in the cell could not be a product of neo-Darwinian evolution, but instead must have been intelligently designed.

Amy K.

11:10 AM, March 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your argument fails for the obvious reason that there are no natural forces that can machine and assemble the artifact you imagine.

jayjay = jfrog = me

I made no argument. I only pointed to the conclusion of your own statement. Since you admit it doesn't apply to this situation, then what you wrote ("Identify the designer. If you can't, it's fantasy. Too bad.") is not a standard which can be applied at all. You might as well never have written it, for your argument really lies in the nature of biological complexity, not in the identity of a possible designer.

The only reason you had for writing it was rhetorical. And that's just annoying.

Brian was obviously referring to scientific writings, not a letter to a friend.

First of all, I'm not retarded. Do you think I could dig up that quote and not know it was a personal correspondence?

Second, the irony here is rather amusing. If Darwin's personal ideas carry no weight in the debate, then how can the personal opinions of ID proponents carry any weight?

Even if you think they are complete hypocrites, advocates of ID do not argue for a "god in the gaps." From what I've read, it's rather clear that they hold no official view on whether the responsible intelligence(s) were that of a deity or alien species. By your own reasoning, you cannot take their religious affiliations or writings in other fields such as philosophy into account.

Personally, I'm not crazy about ID. For one, I'm libertarian, and the idea of fighting to make your ideas part of a standard public school curriculum is repulsive to me. (Well, public schools in general are repulsive to me) Second, I'd like to see room for the possibility of natural explanations.

But bottom line is, most evolutionists just annoy me a heck of a lot more. Chemical evolution is extremely dubious, and if someone peddles it, they should admit they are dealing with philosophy and not science. But the fact is, most "evangelists of evolution" do make claims about ultimate origins and then proceed to shove the philosophical ramifications down everyone's throat.

And the pinnacle of annoying are the propagandists who give the appearance of leaving "the meaning of life" to philosophers and theologians while obviously believing no such thing. In other words, I'd much prefer an honest Dawkins to a hypocritical Gould and his two-face NOMA horsesh*t.

10:53 PM, March 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jfrog, the vast majority of ID scientists do not want it taught in the schools. They want more coverage of evolution to include the weak points of the theory so that a more balanced approach to the subject is given.

In places like Dover where there was a court battle to get it into the schools, it was the school board who wanted it taught. The Discovery Institute which is where a lot of the organizing of ID science is done has actually discouraged teaching in the schools.

Amy K.

2:05 AM, March 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Discovery Institute which is where a lot of the organizing of ID science is done has actually discouraged teaching in the schools.

Well, then perhaps I was wrong. If you are correct, Amy K., then I'm glad to hear it.

3:47 AM, March 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


From the FAQ page at the Discovery Institute website:

3. Should public schools require the teaching of intelligent design?

No. Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute recommends that states and school districts focus on teaching students more about evolutionary theory, including telling them about some of the theory's problems that have been discussed in peer-reviewed science journals. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned. We believe this is a common-sense approach that will benefit students, teachers, and parents.

4. Is teaching about intelligent design unconstitutional?

Although Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom. In addition, the Institute opposes efforts to persecute individual teachers who may wish to discuss the scientific debate over design in a pedagogically appropriate manner.

Amy K.

7:15 AM, March 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Crichton is one bizarre dude. He writes "Jurassic Park" largely from the perspective of a semi-mystic mathematician who warns against the arrogance of human attempts to tame and control their environment, rants, quite accurately, that the planet will get along just fine without us, one way or the other, but maybe, just maybe, if we stop mucking about, we'll be able to survice ourselves.

And now...

Reality bites. It also slashes, gores & stomps. Malcolm, the T-Rex, Raptor, Triceratops & Saurapod fences are down.

And worse, they've rapidly developed human intelligence, learned that a good suit and a sharp wit can disguise the fact that one is, oh, twenty feet tall, 45 feet long & has a head the size of a small automobile with big, nasty teeth...

...and thereby get elected to high office.

After all, you can always eat your interns.

Er, that is the way it's done, isn't it?

10:47 PM, March 23, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I think this gives a good overview of the scientific debate: Global Warming Controversy.
The main changes I support involve better efficiency: higher mpg, efficient washers/dryers and the renai water heaters that flash heat the water.
We need to be careful about doing drastic changes, such as were proposed during the cooling of the 1970s. Some of the changes could have been awful for the environment.

7:01 PM, April 09, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

Amy K. said: "They want more coverage of evolution to include the weak points of the theory so that a more balanced approach to the subject is given."

Given how little the public understands evolution, it seems the schools are doing a bad job of teaching the strong points.

Fred Singer is also skeptical about the connection between CFCs and ozone depletion, between ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer and between second hand smoke and lung cancer. He and David Bellamy both claim that most glaciers are advancing, when the opposite is true. He won't admit the exact article for his evidence and George Monbiot tried unsuccessfully to find it. Singer has been accused of conflicts of interest, most notably involving financial ties to oil and tobacco companies.

2:22 PM, April 10, 2007  
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